Jazz & Space: the relationship between architecture and music

Release Time 2018年5月24日

Architecture is music in space, as it were a frozen music

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Group of Maskers on St. Charles Avenue,New Orleans, 1905

Jazz was born in New Orleans. As a port city and a meeting place for travelers worldwide, New Orleans is located at the mouth of Mississippi River, a busy shipping route between America and the Caribbean in the early 20th century. That age saw its free and open society.

We can find most of legendary musicians in Jazz on the jazz records wall, including Louis Armstrong and Lester Young.

People of different faiths and races communicate with each other side by side, cultivating abundant music traditions. African-American music inherits a majority of African features, such as distinctive rhythm and collective improvisation. The mix of culture and local music – vocal music mostly – produced a brand new performance form of music which we called it Jazz.

The cover of Paramount Jazz of Shanghai Original Rare Edition tells the meaning of Bai Le Men


Paramount, the birthplace of Jazz in China, becomes a generation’s recollections of Jazz, together with Cheongsam and Jinrikisha.

Hand-painted paramount scarves in pop and jazz style

Jazz is a balance between composition and performance. The former is a tradition in Western Europe, and the latter one, spontaneous expression, begins in Africa. The oral culture stresses the importance of performance form, and bears some similarities to Peking Opera. Both of them rely on word of mouth.

Louis Armstrong, one of the most recognizable jazz musicians, has perfect expression force and characteristics. His energetic and hippie style embedded in his songs expresses his individualism which changes entirely the role of Jazz band when playing in groups.

Fisherman’s Revenge performed by Mei Lanfang and Zhou Xinfang in 1947. Tian Han, a dramatist, once wrote a poem for Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu and Zhou Xinfang, describing their fates in the Anti-Japanese War: one of them grew beard and retired, one returned to the farm, and the other still performed on the stage. Mei and Cheng are performers of Dan roles, and Zhou is Laosheng actor. Mei is widely applauded as the embodiment of beauty in China because of the fabulous characters he played. And Zhou’s performance made an indelible impression of “real” on us.

What about the space of Jazz?

Most people will connect it with the origin of jazz. Its intercultural features and improvised nature allow abundant possibilities of spaces. We are able to encounter with jazz in cafes, bars, restaurants, and even squares at the street corner.

Impromptu jazz bands all over New Orleans

But the performance space of jazz cannot be simply defined as random choice. The spiritual core of this type of music is free and exact expression. So, what kind of space can satisfy its needs?

Main entrance to Blue Note Jazz Club Beijing

Blue Note has become one of the premier jazz clubs in the world since its inception. Many prestigious jazz artists have performed there, such asDizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, and Oscar Peterson. Every show in the venue features famous musicians and performers in Jazz sector.

Live performance of renowned jazz musicians, including Carmen Lundy, Victor Gould, and Andrew Renfroe in Blue Note Milan

As the most celebrated venue for the live performance of jazz around the world, Blue Note Jazz Club opens a branch in Beijing, extending the cultural context to the space. Besides providing quality performances, it also creates a free and immersive atmosphere of jazz.

Mysterious effects created by lighting design in the entrance and spaces

Blue Note Jazz Club features a subsided entrance which not only creates a sense of mystery, but makes itself be distinct from surrounding buildings. To some degree, it drops a hint that the club is an outsider, but this identity is blurred by the close connection between the building and the site. As a result, the entrance cultivates a vague setting of uncertainty.

Jazz photo wall at the corner of the entrance

Walking through a narrow and long corridor, visitors can find the timeline of jazz history on both sides. The end is a lobby with a generous amount of space, where is 5 meters below the ground surface. The height of lobby is relatively low but still sufficient to improve the interactions among space users. Jazz began against the same backdrop.

Wide space with limited height and elaborate interior design facilitates communication

Going further to explore, visitors will see before their eyes an ample space: the main music hall of the club, where is acoustically perfect. The overall arrangement of room is free and innovative, differing from typical counterparts. One reception space is encircled by two-story stands, enhancing the atmosphere of live show.

Corridor to main hall

Main music hall in Blue Note Jazz Club Beijing

The space arrangement of the hall

The layout of the music hall is similar to theater, and to some degree, bar. Tables are casually arranged around the stage on the first floor, improving the flexibility of the whole space. Above that, there is a balcony where meets the high demands for appreciation.

Main seating area and balcony

Materials in Blue Note Jazz Club

Ferrous metals, compressed concrete slabs, perforated acoustic metal panels, wood floors, leather furniture, and acoustic ceiling are utilized to enhance the acoustic effects of main hall. The whole scheme is profoundly elegant.

Perforated metal panels

Exquisite details

However, it is evident that without users, spaces are useless.Activity per se is a vital component of spatial characteristics.The most charming feature of Blue Note Jazz Club Beijing is its flexible spaces. Every corner in it enjoys the strong feelings caused by music and life.

Live show in Blue Note Jazz Club

With great support and efforts of Jonathan Lee, one of the most influential and respected musicians in China, Blue Note signed an agreement with Beijing Yinghuan Culture Media Co., Ltd. in March 5th, 2014. It marked that the top-notch jazz brand made its debut in China, and was a major milestone for Chinese music market on the road to the world.

Jazz musicians in Blue Note

Today’s Blue Note is a mecca for jazz fanatics around the world. Its music, and even food, environment, services are all of high caliber, offering the best experience for customers. Every year, Blue Note hosts thousands of professional shows, and its own Jazz Festival. “The jazz capital of the world”, is its brand position and value.

Bar counter in the main hall

Except for splendid music performance, Blue Note Jazz Club Beijing is also known for its gourmet, wine, and thoughtful services provided by star chefs and bar teams. It is committed to creating a stylish, artistic, healthy, and elegant life style.

Spatial design and surface treatment in balcony

How can Blue Note Jazz Club Beijing, a jazz center incubated by a cultural melting pot, establish itself as a brand-new cultural landmark?


A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.

Emily Dickinson


Project Name: Blue Note Beijing Jazz Club

Project type: Performing arts theater

Address: 23 Qianmen Street, Dongcheng District

Area:  2,680 sq. m.

Client: Beijing Winbright Investment co. LTD.

Budget:  6.5million USD

Completed:  2016

Architecture Design: Chiasmus Partners,inc

Interior Design: Chiasmus Partners ,inc

Construction drawing Design:  China Humax Engineering Design

Lighting Design: Sign Lighting

Acoustics Design: Acoustic and Theatre Special Design & Research Studio

Stage Lighting & Sound System: J.H Theatre Architecture Design Consulting

Acoustic Advisor:  MaxTeam

Photographer:  Eric Zhang

Design Principals:  James Wei Ke, Hyunho Lee

Design Team: Max Bu, Eagle Yin,Yujia Deng, JB Simon, Laia Borau, Michelle Meng, Bowen Zhang, Justin Cheng,

Design Advisor:  Frank Sun

2018 Young Bird Plan Suichang “Neo-Toilet” International Design Competition was officially launched last week. So far, over 1000 entrants have joined us with passions. With the guidance of James Wei Ke, the mentor of this competition, the projects of Top 5 winners will be modified and fabricated in the county.


YoungBirds Editorial Department holds the copyright to the above content except for some pictures and texts courtesy of Chiasmus.


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